January Prayer Letter 
Friday, January 26, 2007, 05:30 PM

Dear friends...


Welcome to Chiang Mai! Nathan and I arrived here safely Monday morning (8th Jan) after a long but pleasant flight from Heathrow to Bangkok and then a short flight to Chiang Mai. We have so far settled in well and were enjoying the busy life that accompanies living in the middle of a city. Chiang Mai is very busy at the moment as it is peak holiday season for western tourists and is also graduation time from the local universities.

We started work at The Centre on our second day here, still feeling very jet lagged we were given two classes and a few resources and told to teach! Fortunately my first class didnt turn up which gave me more time to prepare for the second class. It was desperately needed as I have never taught English before and didnt have much idea what I was to teach. In the end it went a few students. Classes are never any larger than 5 or 6 and it is rare for everyone to turn up. Students pay just 700 baht (₤10) for 20 classes, one every day for four weeks. This gives us a good opportunity to build relationships and often students will sign up for further classes.

After classes there are activities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights; Tuesday and Thursday evenings we often go out to dinner with our students. Monday nights there is a discussion group which discusses issues such as relationships, Wednesday night is the western cooking night which is very popular and involves a few students helping to cook and then everyone enjoying a meal, and The Friday night party which is a chance to play a few games, have some food and hear a short testimony or gospel talk.

Singapore


We returned from the C-SEA (Central and South East Asia) SIM conference in Singapore on Tuesday evening. We were helping to look after the kids while their parents were in the meetings. We played a lot of games with them, made balloon animals and sang some songs. It was good fun but often hard work particularly as I was a bit ill for most of it. There were around 50 missionaries at the conference many of whom work in sensitive areas of Asia and so have never had the opportunity to meet their colleagues. It was great for them to be encouraged by each others work and to discuss future projects and plans. Please thank God for the great time it was and for the work of SIM in Asia and the impact it is having.

Blog


While I am in Thailand I will be writing a blog which can be viewed here (you are reading it!) This will give further insight into my daily life here in Chiang Mai and also photos of what we have been getting up to.

Prayer Points


Please thank God for:
The safe and comfortable journey to Thailand and also to Singapore.
A quick settling in process and for the friendly staff at The Centre: Opal, Rachel, Wor, Jim, Max and Jen.
The exciting plans for a new Centre in another part of the city, and the financial support for that from a church in the US.
A good time in Singapore and the opportunity to be encouraged by the faith and work of fellow missionaries in Asia.

Please pray for:
Opportunities to build strong relationships with our students; pray particularly for Jeev, Pang and Aun as I teach them and spend time with them.
The YWAM team who are arriving at The Centre on Monday (29th Jan) for 3 weeks from Newcastle, Australia. Pray for safe travel and a real enthusiasm to get to know the students and share with them the good news of Jesus.
Guidance in which church to commit to as we look around at different English speaking and Thai speaking churches. Please pray for a church which we can both get a lot out of, we can both be involved in and we can both be an encouragement to.

Thank you so much for praying for us, we have seen many prayers answered already and continue to everyday, it is so encouraging to know that God is always with us and is providing for us all the time. Prayer is so powerful.

God bless,

Paul Zealey


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The Poor Singer  
Thursday, January 25, 2007, 10:00 PM
(or is that just an even poorer pun?)

Nathan and I are settling back into life in Chiang Mai just now, having recently returned from about five days at the SIM C-SEA (Central & Southeast Asia) conference in Singapore...

We arrived last Friday (19th January) and as the conference wasn't to start until Saturday evening, we were left with almost two full days to explore Singapore. Unfortunately, Nathan was not at his best on Friday (I'll spare you the details, but it's safe to say that I didn't particularly enjoy seeing three different meals emerge from his mouth during our plane trip; I'm sure he enjoyed it even less!) and so I was left to wander the streets alone.

I was really impressed by how clean the city was: everything looks so new and there is very little dirt around. Orchard Street is the main shopping street, and is about three kilometres in length. Combine that marathon with the heat and the humidity (so constricting for someone used to rainy Newbury that I found it hard to breathe at times), and it's unsurprising that I was drenched by the end of my afternoon's perambulations! I had to remind myself on a few occasions, too, not to cross the road on a red man, for fear of arrest and possible hanging (I may be exaggerating a little, but the consequences are indeed relatively severe, I am told).

Many cities in the UK have 'China Towns', but Singapore instead had 'Little India', where it was an odd feeling being the only white face in the crowd (not something that I really have to get used to in Chiang Mai, though many of the other GAPers will in their countries of service). I wondered if it really was just like a little version of India; it seemed very underdeveloped compared to the rest of Singapore.

Nathan was well enough to join me on Saturday, so we revisited the city, walked around the shops and popped into Little India again (where, with company, I was less tempted to hop on the tube and escape to a culture with which I was more comfortable). On the way back to the hotel, I was reminded that other parts of the world can do changeable weather too, not just the UK... Unfortunately, C-SEA does it with more aplomb, and so once again I found that not one patch of my clothes was dry when I returned, this time due to exceedingly heavy rain!

when it rains, it pours...


Conference
At SIM conferences, short-termers like us are often asked to do the children's work so that the grown-ups can talk about longer-term issues that are affecting their ministries. There were ten kids between the ages of about 5 and 10, mostly children of missionaries, as you might expect. It was like a meeting of the United Nations, with children from all over Asia, and even one or two from far-flung Paraguay!

Nathan really enjoyed himself looking after them, setting up a sort of mini-Olympics. Sadly we didn't have the resources for the decathlon, javelin and 100m freestyle, so we instead set up egg-and-spoon races, water balloons, team balloon-through-the-leg relays and so on. Unfortunately, it was my turn to be ill by this time, so he was largely left to do things himself, and indeed he did prove himself to be great with the kids.

The Return

drinking chai tea in little india
I keep being reminded how blessed we are to be serving here. We are still stepping out for God in what are at times spiritually oppressive conditions, but I must be honest and tell you that materially we are not suffering as some other missionaries do. I could not believe the speed of the Internet in Singapore (actually, that's because it was so slow and expensive!), and back here in Chiang Mai it sometimes feels like we are living the life of luxury. Eating out here is so cheap (a full meal is possible for the equivalent of about 60p), and so we have been taking advantage of this and eating out with our students in order to build relationships with them and -- we pray -- help them to draw closer to entering a relationship with Christ.


With that in mind, would you join me in praying for Pang, Aun and Jeev, thanking God for the relationships that are beginning to develop and asking for his blessing on the continuation of this. Thank you.


Time to sign off
Evenings are busy times for GAPers here: there is much socialising with the students to be done! So allow me to thank you all again for standing with me in prayer. I love to hear from you all, so don't hesitate to drop me an email, and look out for my next prayer letter very soon!

In His service,
Paul

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December Prayer Letter 
Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 04:03 PM
Dear Friends,

December could be described as a kind of no-mans-land of the SIM GAP programme. The 8 weeks of orientation is over and the great adventures yet to begin. These last few weeks have been a good time to relax and reflect on the past 8 weeks and prepare for the coming 6 months abroad. I have had the opportunity to meet with friends and supporters and share more about what I will be doing in Thailand. It has been extremely encouraging to chat with a few former OMF missionaries who worked in Thailand for many years. I will be departing these shores for the rather sunnier and warmer climes of Chiang Mai on 7th January for a challenging 6 months.

Orientation

It was with sadness but great excitement that the 12 of us left Wetheringsett Manor at the end of the orientation period in November. It was a time of much fun and enjoyment mixed with huge amounts of work and much learning. As I have reflected on all we did and studied I think there are three main things that I took from the 8 weeks.

Firstly I gained a much deeper understanding of the reasons in the Bible for telling people about Jesus. As we saw, The Bible is not the basis of mission; mission is the basis of the bible (Ralph D Winter). I found this really confirmed the real reasons for why Im taking these 6 months to go to Thailand.

Secondly, we looked at what the Bible says about everyday life. It will be important while we are away to continue to read the bible and pray lots, it seems so simple but when there is lots to do it can easily get forgotten. I found this biblical and practical advice very helpful and I will have to use this to continue living a Godly life in Thailand.

Finally, I learnt much about cross-cultural mission, how we relate to people from a completely different culture and how we share the Gospel with them. The Thai culture is extremely different to our western culture and I know it will be difficult at times to keep up with it all.

Itinerary

As previously mentioned Nathan and I will be leaving for Chiang Mai on the 7th January and returning on the 1st July. We will also be attending the SIM south-east and central Asian conference in Singapore on the 19th to 23rd January. Please pray for safety as we travel and for quick recovery from jet lag.
Fellow Gappers

Ill briefly update you on where the others in the group are going and what they will be doing, please also remember them in your prayers as Im sure they will have much the same excitements and fears at this time.

Hanna John and Becky Bellerby will be heading for Loja, Ecuador on the 4th January. They will be working in a student caf.

Bob Stanex and Stephen Collins will be going to Kaffrine, Senegal on the 13th January. They will be learning Wolof and telling bible stories to local Muslim children.

Katharine Brouwer and Katie Ayano will be departing for Jimma, Ethiopia on the 11th January. They will be working with AIDS orphans.

Jo Sharman and Ailsa Parrat will be leaving on 8th January for Kisumu, Kenya. They will be teaching arts and crafts in a nursery school.

Jocelyn Richard and Becky McMaster will be heading for India on 11th January. They will be working with street kids teaching them to read and write.

Personal Note

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who was able to come to my commissioning service at St Nicolas on 10th December. It was a great encouragement to me to see so many of you there and to know I have a church which is so supportive of me taking this gap year. I hope you all have a wonderful 6 months and I look forward to seeing you when I get back.

Prayer and praise points

Please thank God for:
A great time at Wetheringsett preparing for the next 6 months. Thank God for all we learnt and all the fun we had together.
Great support from my home church St Nicolas, for all the encouragement and the financial support which has meant I now have enough for the whole year! If you would like to see a break down of how the money is spent then please drop me an email.
Our visas!
Our flights being booked.

Please ask God for:
A real trust in God to use us effectively and to his glory over the next 6 months.
Our friends and families as we head off, that we would be an encouragement to them and that they would be able to trust God to protect us while we're away.
That we would both be able to adjust quickly to the culture, language and people so we can be great witnesses and really enjoy our time working at The Centre.


God Bless,



Paul Zealey

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The Blog 
Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 03:35 PM
Hi, welcome to my blog. Im Paul Zealey from Newbury, England. Im currently taking a gap year with SIM (Serving in Mission). After 2 months training in the UK last year I am now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working with university students and sharing the good news of Jesus with them. I am here with my fellow gapper Nathan Sherwood; together we are based at The Centre which aims to evangelise to students through English classes and building relationships with them. Nathan and I are teaching English and sharing our faith with our new Thai friends. We will be here for 6 months until July when we both head home to study Engineering at university.
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